Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Wellbeing update. Well it’s all a bit blustery for May – we had an old friend visit at the weekend – I had said ‘Come in May! The weather is usually nice in May and the midges aren’t too bad yet’…..It was damp, full of midges and not very warm at all but it was good to catch up, go for walks and just chat. Friendship is such an important thing to hold onto and it is so easy for life to get in the way of keeping in touch. I’ve just ‘found’ another old friend after a gap of a very, very long time and am so delighted that she is planning to come to Mid Argyll in September! A coincidence but I can’t help feeling it was ‘meant to be’ 🙂
This week we are focussing our attention on stroke and blood pressure – what they are, how to recognise and respond and how to prevent or reduce the damaging effects of high blood pressure.
And one way to reduce your blood pressure is through meditation, so although World Meditation Day was last weekend, why not give it a try – learn how to clear your mind, relax and let go of all the clutter that’s crowding your thoughts. The great thing about it is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. I am taking a course just now and we do a short relaxation/meditation at the beginning of each session to clear our minds of the day job and focus on the learning – it’s great!
Let us know how you get on. See you next week!
Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services
Action on Stroke
In the UK, 100,000 people have strokes every year – this equates to roughly one every 5 minutes. A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is impacted, depriving it of essential oxygen and other nutrients.
Strokes can vary in severity, with some people making a quick recovery, while others can be left with life-limiting health effects for the rest of their lives. Depending on the location of the injury in the brain, a stroke may cause difficulty communicating, limitations in movement, or changes to mental capacity.
A stroke is a medical emergency which can be fatal, and so the immediate course of action should be to phone 999 to seek medical help.
There are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke – this is the most common type of stroke (accounting for 87% of cases) and is caused by blockage of an artery
- Hemorrhagic stroke – caused by a rupture to blood vessels in or around the brain.
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, use the FAST acronym.
- Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure and can often go undetected as for many people there are no early warning signs.
For those who do experience symptoms they can include:-
- Early morning headaches
- Irregular heartbeat
- Buzzing in ears
- Changes in vision
However, if left untreated hypertension can result in serious health complications including:
- Heart attacks or heart failure
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Vascular dementia
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers:
- Systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body
- Diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
As a general guide, high blood pressure is 140/90mmHg or higher, and ideal blood pressure is usually between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg – however this can vary for different people.
There are a number of lifestyle changes we can make to lower our risk of developing hypertension, which include:
- Reducing salt intake (less than 5mg per day)
- Minimising alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Maintaining a healthy diet which is low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables
- Stop smoking
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing stress
- Maximising quality sleep
Our Wellness Assessment programme (full details on page 8) includes a blood pressure check as part of the appointment, and the nurse will be able to discuss your result with you.
However, if you have concerns about your blood pressure, please contact your GP as soon as possible.
World Meditation Day - 21st May 2022
Meditation has been an integral part of many religions and was first found spoken of in written form in about 1500 BCE in India. It plays a prominent role in many religions throughout the world, especially Buddhism and other Eastern faiths, but is also practised by those who are neither spiritual nor religious as a way of easing stress and clearing their mind.
In today’s world meditation is vital regardless of whether you’re a spiritual person or not, the frantic hustle and bustle of daily activity prevent many of us from ever having a moment’s peace.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation has been scientifically proven to have positive mental and physical effects when practiced regularly. Some of the key benefits of meditation include:
Helping with anxiety
Across the world, anxiety remains one of the leading mental health conditions. Although in severe cases doctors may prescribe medication to help people with their anxiety, they often tend to try a more holistic approach first. Meditation is one of the most common holistic ways to treat the symptoms of anxiety, helping individuals to slow their heart rate, control harmful thoughts and prevent anxiety episodes.
There is no doubt that the world we live in can be stressful. Although stress is a completely normal bodily response, we shouldn’t be feeling stressed regularly as constant stress can cause serious problems in the body. Meditation is a great way to take time out from the busy world and to focus inwardly on yourself. The breathing exercises conducted while meditating can reduce blood pressure and lower stress levels, calming the mind and giving the body time to recover from periods of prolonged stress.
The human brain has more things than ever to keep up with and these combined with the internet and our access to smartphones means that many of us struggle with concentration. Practicing meditation and mindfulness encourages you to think about the present, to live in the current moment and to dismiss distractions, helping you to remain focused when you need to be and to improve your overall productivity.
How to meditate
One of the great things about meditation is that anyone can do it, and they can do it from anywhere. Whether you’re seated, standing, lying in bed or sitting in the bath, simply close your eyes, focus on taking deep breaths in and out and allow your mind to empty of thoughts. If thoughts pop up, simply acknowledge them and wave them on their way. Continue to breathe deeply and use your breathing to deepen your inner sense of calm, until you are ready to open your eyes and continue with your day.
How to celebrate World Meditation Day
Celebrating World Meditation Day is best done by setting some time aside for yourself to clear your mind and relax. How meditation looks can vary broadly from person to person, with some preferring physical activity accompanying their practice (often Yoga or other exercise-oriented activities) while others prefer to sit and take their ease.
For your own World Meditation Day celebration, find a place where you feel at ease and relaxed, whether that’s in the bath, at the gym, or even overlooking a natural environment like the ocean or forest. Then simply put yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes, breathing steadily, and let all thoughts wander clear from your mind. If you’ve never tried to meditate before then it can be difficult to clear wandering thoughts from your mind and you may benefit from trying a guided meditation tutorial in which an experienced individual will gently talk you through the process.
Whichever way you choose to celebrate World Meditation Day, just remember that Meditation is most beneficial when practiced regularly, so why not set yourself a reminder to meditate once a day, every day for the rest of the week, and see how you feel.